Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I Once Was Lost

It rained a little on the morning of the Race for the Cure. The air was moist and wind whipped through the trees as we left our house at 6:30 a.m. I got a little worried, as my perplexing allergy/asthma/whatever-you-want-to-call-it attacks seem to happen when it’s humid. I pictured myself passing out on the race route with my eyes swollen shut as mucus poured from my nose and 50,000 runners trampled my body. Perhaps a drowned rat would float past.

I packed the Benadryl in our backpack o’ stuff and off we went. M and I made our way to the runner’s start on Constitution Avenue and I squeezed up next to the announcer’s stand, where Condoleeza Rice and “Man About Town” Bob Madigan were looking official and being largely ignored by the crowd. I dropped two pink Benadryl capsules into my sports bra in case of major catastrophe. And we were off!

I had no allergy problems whatsoever. As I crossed the finish line my eyes scanned the crowds for M. I turned in the ticket from my race bib and joined the throng of people who were sweatily congratulating each other and gulping down water. I walked up one side of the street and down the other. Where was he?

Then I noticed that runners were being split between two different exits. So I walked over to the other exit and searched. He wasn't at that one, either.

“Hmm,” I thought. “What would Bill Gates do?”

Bill Gates would come up with a genius-like formula that would lead directly to the location of my husband!

The Formula:
Walk from one exit to the other. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

As I walked to and fro I tried to get into M’s head.

“Hmm,” I thought. “Where would M be?”

a) Already back home, bitter that he had to get up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday.
b) Over at the maze of vendor tents, snapping up all the free bananas and bottled water.
c) In a Port-o-John?
d) Trying to get Condi’s autograph. Or worse, Bob Madigan’s. How embarrassing.
e) Standing by the giant Yoplait Yogurt balloon, because one year that had been our meeting place.

Hot damn! I had penetrated his brain!

M must have seen that the runners were being split between two exits and knew it would be hard for us to find each other. He correctly assumed that I'd remember meeting by the giant Yoplait Yogurt balloon in 2003 and sense that he’d selected the same meeting place this year. Of course!

But I looked around and discovered that there was no giant Yoplait Yogurt this year. However, there was a giant Sun Chips balloon.

Eureka! M knew that I would notice the absence of the giant Yoplait Yogurt and by default meet him at the nearest Giant Floating Food Balloon. And there it was!

But M wasn’t.

By now, over an hour had passed. The walkers were crossing the finish line. With every pair of Nikes I became more anxious.

“STOP!” I wanted to yell. “You’re crowding the streets! STOP MOVING FOR ONE GOSH-DANGED SECOND!” (I thought it inappropriate to curse at a breast cancer fundraiser)

Instead, I tried to be logical. I thought, “What would the Girl Scouts do?”

I decided to seek the point of highest elevation so I would be more visible. I found a tree growing on a tiny hill on the mall. I stepped on top of the hill. I leaned against the tree. And waited.

And waited.

For an hour.

I was embarrassed to feel tears springing to my eyes. Where was he? Had he been kidnapped? Had he been fatally attacked by a drowned rat? It had been two hours. Surely something was wrong.

The wind blew and I shivered. I thought of the nice, warm sweatshirt in M’s backpack. A tear leaked from my eye.

A little boy tapped me on the butt. I looked down at him.

“Can I stand on this bump now?” he asked.

Fuck, it wasn’t doing me any good. I relinquished my bump and trudged across the street. The crowd was thinning. Most of the free bananas had been eaten and people were leaving. I made my way to the announcer’s stand, hoping he might be willing to call M’s name over the loudspeaker.

And suddenly, there he was. Right in front of me, looking frantic. And totally not seeing me.

“M!” I yelled, and waved my arms. We ran to each other.

“WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?” we exclaimed simultaneously.

“I’ve been standing right there, right next to the finish line!” M said. “Where have YOU been?”

“I ran across the finish line!” I blubbered. “And then I went to the Sun Chips balloon! And then I stood under a tree!”

M shook his head. “I was worried sick. I thought you had an allergy attack and had to go to the hospital!”

I grabbed his hand and dragged him across the street. “Look!” I pointed. “I’ve been standing by that tree for the last hour!”

He pointed to where he had been standing. “I was right there, watching for you the whole time!”

The two places were about twenty yards apart.

“Oh no,” I groaned. “We are such losers.” We collapsed in a fit of laughter.

“WHERE ARE YOU?” M exclaimed, running into me on purpose. “I CAN”T SEE YOU!”

“I CAN’T FIND MY HUSBAND!” I yelled, tripping over his feet. “WHERE IS HE?”

People passing by gave us strange looks, which made us laugh all the harder.

Suddenly M stopped. “Why is your cleavage all pink?”

I looked down. I remembered the Benadryls.

I laughed.

“It’s war paint,” I said. “Let’s go.”

And off we went, hand-in-hand, the blind leading the blind.

Next year I'm bringing fireworks and a loudspeaker. And maybe Bill Gates.



Blogger E :) said...

LOL! That's a great story.

My parents told me a similar one once where they'd arranged to meet at this big round bollard in the middle of their city. Both waited for three hours, neither showed up. Both annoyed, they started to leave at the same time and met eachother halfway - they'd been waiting on opposite sides of the bollard, no more than half a yard apart. D'oh!

3:55 PM  
Blogger His suzy said...

I probably would've cried too. I'm just glad you two found each other and there was no major catastrophe! I guess it was fitting that day that the Benedryl was pink, eh? ;)

3:55 PM  
Blogger Bearette24 said...

OMG...when I read that first paragraph, I thought, they're going to melt and turn her bra pink.

I must be psychic ;)

3:57 PM  
Blogger Bearette24 said...

I had a similar thing happen yrs ago with a friend...we were meeting at the movie theater to see a movie and I'd get there, see she wasn't there, wander around the mall, and come back. She still wasn't there. She was doing the exact same thing. Finally we both stopped at the theater at the same time.

3:58 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Oh no! I get that same panicky, teary feeling of "Oh my gosh [Person X] has left me!"

But perhaps we need to start a fund to get you a pair of running shorts with a little pocket for those Benadryl. Because I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to ingest anything that had been in my sweaty sports bra.

4:37 PM  
Blogger Elsa said...

I'm so glad you found each other. I understand how it can be so disconcerting when you just don't know where the other one is or what might have happened to them. But it does make you realize just how much you love the other.

And next year, you may want to consider bringing a cell phone?

9:55 PM  
Blogger Carolyn said...

I love that story.

Thanks for the laughs.

12:09 AM  
Blogger verniciousknids said...

Awww...I love a happy ending, especially when it's pink :D

BTW the main reason people have cell phones in Japan is so they can meet up with each other in crowded places (i.e. everywhere!)...it's pretty much all I use mine for!

7:45 AM  
Blogger Heather B. said...

That's said, yet funny.
My race story was so boring that I didn't even share it. I ran, then walked home. Exciting.

And I totally would have cried, I hate being lost (or as I say "losted")

9:48 AM  
Blogger Roxanne said...

What you should have learned from others' comments: put pills ANYWHERE but in sweaty bra, ALWAYS set up a meeting place or put in cell phone in sweaty bra, and hug the ones you love over and over and over so they never abandon you again.

9:52 AM  
Blogger Frema said...

What a great storyteller you are!

Also, I would've started crying about an hour earlier than you did.

10:45 AM  
Blogger the belligerent intellectual said...

I love how your (the female's) immediate reaction is to think out the situation and apply various logical assumptions and conclusions, whereas your husband (the guy) just ran across the finish line and stood there. I'm pretty sure there's a sociological lesson in there, but what do I know, I was and English major.

1:34 PM  
Blogger verniciousknids said...

Liz, I've posted another J-food story for you \(^_^)/

3:49 AM  

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